Sapporo Dome photo by Yumemi.K

Sapporo Dome photo by Yumemi.K

Japan vs South Korea
10 August 2011, Sapporo Dome

UFWC challengers South Korea have named their squad for the forthcoming title match against champions Japan, to be played on 10 August in Sapparo.

South Korea, or Korea Republic, have come as close as anyone to defeating Japan during their current reign. With a damaging match-fixing scandal (in which ten K-League players were handed lifetime bans) currently enveloping South Korean domestic football, the country will be looking to the national side to restore some pride. Can they unseat Japan and become Unofficial Football World Champions?

The two sides are hardly strangers, having met twice already in the UFWC competition within the last 12 months. Last October, in Japan’s first UFWC title defence, the teams played out a 0-0 draw, and in January, in the Asian Cup semi final, Japan won on penalties.

That epic match saw the Koreans take the lead through a Ki Sung-Yeung penalty, only for Ryoichi Maeda to grab an equaliser. 1-1 after 90 minutes, the game went into extra time. Japan took the lead – Hajima Hosogai scoring from a rebound after a Keisuke Honda penalty was saved. But, in the final minute of extra time, South Korea equalised through Hwang Jae-Won. In the penalty shoot-out, Eiji Kawashima saved the first two Korean penalties, and the third was fired high and wide. Japan won the shoot-out 3-0.

Since that match, just like Japan, South Korea have remained unbeaten, having drawn with Turkey and defeated Uzbekistan, Honduras, Serbia and Ghana. They’ve scored 11 goals in their last five games, while Japan have only scored three in their last five. Japan, however, haven’t conceded a goal since the two put past them by the Koreans in January.

South Korea have only ever won one UFWC title match, in January 1995, and that victory is somewhat controversial. This was during the Carlsberg Cup Chinese New Year Tournament, played in Hong Kong. South Korea beat reigning champions Colombia 1-0 to take the title, and at the time the game was regarded as a full international. However, it was retrospectively removed from FIFA’s records on the basis that South Korea had apparently fielded an under-21 side.

Looking back at the match records, it turns out that 10 of the 11 South Korean players fielded against Colombia also played in their country’s match against China on 19 February 1995. And that match still stands in the FIFA records as an ‘A’ match. So the reclassification of the match seems to be an error. In any case, for UFWC purposes we decided not to reclassify the match, and the result stands.

Korean coach Cho Kwang-Rae has named his squad for the match – with some caveats. The 24-man squad contains 15 overseas players, and Cho says he will not select players who are likely to be in action for their clubs. New Sunderland signing Ji Dong-Won is among the overseas players who may not end up being selected for the match. Other British-based players in the squad are Celtic pair Cha Du-Ri and Ki Sung-Yueng, and Lee Chung-Yong of Bolton.

The full squad is:

Goalkeepers: Jung Sung-Ryong (Suwon Bluewings); Kim Young-Kwang (Ulsan Hyundai); Kim Jin-Hyun (Cerezo Osaka)
Defenders: Park Joo-Ho (FC Basel); Lee Jae-Seong (Ulsan Hyundai); Kim Young-Kwon (Omiya Ardija); Kwak Tae-Hwi (Ulsan Hyundai); Park Won-Jae (Jeonbuk Motors); Lee Jung-Soo (Al-Sadd); Cho Young-Cheol (Albirex Niigata); Cha Du-Ri (Celtic)
Midfielders: Lee Yong-Rae (Suwon Bluewings); Kim Bo-Kyung (Cerezo Osaka); Kim Jung-Woo (Sangju Sangmu Phoenix); Ji Dong-Won (Sunderland); Koo Ja-Cheol (VfL Wolfsburg); Ki Sung-Yueng (Celtic); Lee Chung-Yong (Bolton); Yoon Bit-Garam (Gyeongnam FC); Nam Tae-Hee (Valenciennes)
Forwards: Son Heung-Min (Hamburg SV); Lee Keun-Ho (Gamba Osaka); Park Chu-Young (Monaco); Kim Shin-Wook (Ulsan Hyundai)

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